Why 90% of Salespeople Have Never Done a Demo Drive

Car-speedingI recently purchased a new car. The process of going around several dealerships and test driving various brands reminded me of how crucial this step is in the selling process. Yet, very few salespeople did it correctly. In fact, I am going to make this bold statement:

90% of salespeople have never done a demo drive in their entire automotive career!

I know what you might be thinking. If you’re selling cars, you might think, “That’s not true, I go for a drive with almost every customer.” If you’re a manager, you might think, “That’s not true; at our store it’s mandatory to do a demo drive.”

I’m going to challenge how you think about demo drives. If a sales person goes for a drive with a potential customer, it does not mean they actually went on a demo drive.

You see, in order for the demo drive to actually be a demo drive, YOU have to drive first and YOU have to demonstrate!

That’s right, if you’re not driving, it’s not a demo drive, because you cannot demonstrate from the passenger seat. When you hear the word ‘demonstrate,’ what does it imply? It means that you are actually showing how things work in order for the other person to feel more comfortable when it’s their turn.

A great sales demonstration of the vehicle means that you have to demonstrate the vehicle first.

For example, if you want to demonstrate a feature such as the brake assist, you do it by actually demonstrating how it works! So I will say to the customer, “Since safety is so important to you, I want to demonstrate for you how the electronic stability control working alongside the brake assist will help you and your family stay safe in the event of an emergency situation. So on this open road I’ll accelerate to approximately 50 miles an hour and then I’m going to simulate a car or a stray animal pulling out in front of us, and me having to avoid hitting it. So let’s go ahead and take it up to 50 miles an hour – vroooom! I’m going to simulate in 3, 2, 1” – and I slam on the brakes, jerk the wheel, get the blood pumping, get the customer’s heart rate up. I get the customer excited! I’m experiencing the vehicle with them and I’m demonstrating how it works.

You can demonstrate so many things: performance, turning radius, acceleration, stopping and handling.

Here are the benefits of the sales person driving first to demonstrate the vehicle:

  1. It allows the customer to take mental ownership in a non-stressful environment. When you  transfer the vehicle to them, they will feel the freedom to drive normally and play with the vehicle the way you did.
  2. It allows you to showcase certain key features or hot buttons that are important to your customer (as identified previously in your investigation).
  3. It allows the customer to truly experience the vehicle without the fear of “breaking” it. And people will pay a lot more for a great experience!

It’s not a coincidence that in my personal shopping experience I purchased the only vehicle that was demonstrated for me the right way. The salesperson drove it first and because it was a BMW, he really enjoyed showcasing all the handling, performance and safety aspects. His demonstration impressed not just me but also my wife, who told me, “You should get this car! You’ll have so much fun driving it!”

Don’t lose a sale opportunity with your next customer by skipping the proper demo drive. Say this: “I would like to show you the performance of the vehicle. Allow me to drive first so you can relax and see everything this vehicle can do for you.”

And then drive first, demonstrate the value, and give them an experience!


  1. Joseph on September 7, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Great blog post!

  2. Mel Bayo on March 10, 2016 at 1:20 pm


    I can’t believe it took me this long to find this post. This is exactly what I teach our salespeople and managers. I experienced firsthand the difference true demos make when, midway through my sales career, I made the switch from letting my customers drive first to driving first myself. Greater customer enthusiasm, deeper customer trust, greater perceived value, more write ups, more sales and more personal income.

    Our salespeople who know use 5 steps…..

    1. Ask buyer’s permission to demonstrate the feature/benefit in action.
    2. Describe what will happen.
    3. Perform the maneuver.
    4. Recap what happened in feature/benefit language.
    5. Gain buyer agreement of value.

    It works. Thanks for the great post and keep doing what you do!

  3. Glyn Taylor-Williams on July 7, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Johnathon what are your thoughts on someone test driving a car on their own, without a salesperson in the car with them, watching their every move.

    I get the point about providing a demonstration first.

    But really how much difference does this make on conversions? The sales person stepping into the driving seat. Rather than just talking and explaining about the vehicle. I’d like to see some figures and evidence, it would be interesting to see if there is a difference.

    I completely agree about trying to get the customer to “take mental ownership” though. It’s the puppy dog sale 101.

    I’m sharing this on Twitter.

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